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Two species of Paleoloxodon, the dwarf elephants are prehistoric. They were as big as donkeys
the LONDON - New discoveries on the Paleoloxodon, dwarf elephants that lived about 800 million years ago the islands of the Mediterranean, and the fossils show changes in the shape and structure of these animals. Elements which have led paleontologists to suggest the existence of two different species of small pachyderms. And' what emerged from research conducted by Asier Larramendi for the EoFauna Scientific Research, which has published the results of the investigations in the journal Quaternary Science Review. By examining the fossil specimens of Paleoloxodon european and indian, the research team has found that the crests cranial were more voluminous elephant with skulls of larger compared to smaller species. "Even in the skulls of the specimens, the europeans who had ridges quite pronounced, the skull is never as often as that of the exemplary indian," explains Larramendi. "This tells us that once, there were two species separated of pachyderms in Europe and in India," he adds.

The researchers argue that the protrusions on the skull may have evolved to facilitate the adhesion of the muscles at the neck of the animal. The first skull of Paleoloxodon was found in India and studied by the geologist scots Hugh Falconer in the years '40 of XIX the century. "The head of the creature has a shape so grotesque that it seems like the caricature of an elephant's head with a wig from a judge," writes Falconer. Paleontologists have believed for a long time that the european species Paleoloxodon antiquus had a single crest very thin on the skull, while the other indian Paleoloxodon namadicus we had a very robust.

The discovery in Germany and Italy, of specimens that had skulls similar to the shape of the pachyderms in India has led experts to wonder about the possibility that the two variants were in fact a single species. "By examining the skulls of germans and italians, we have found a model consistent with, but going to the bottom of this issue antiquus / namadicus, it has become increasingly apparent that it was actually two distinct species," says Hanwen Zhang of the University of Bristol, which also explains the method used by scientists to determine the age of the animal at the moment of death: "Just as the modern elephants, the Paleoloxodon changed six sets of teeth in a lifetime. This means that from the analysis of tooth fossils we can determine with accuracy the age of every sample."

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